"I do not think that literature is the primary instrument for social transformation, but I do think it has potency. So I work to tell the truth about people's lives; I work to celebrate struggle, to applaud the tradition of struggle in our community, to bring to center stage all those characters, just ordinary folks on the block, who've been waiting in the wings, characters we thought we had to ignore because they weren't pimp-flashy or hustler-slick or because they didn't fit easily into previously acceptable modes or stock types. I want to lift up some usable truths ..."
"My responsibility to myself, my neighbors, my family and the human family is to try to tell the truth. That ain't easy. There areso few truth-speaking traditions in this society in which the myth of "Western civilization" has claimed the allegiance of so many. We have rarely been encouraged and equipped to appreciate the fact that the truth works, that it releases the Spirit and that it is a joyous thing. We live in a part of the world, for example, that equates criticism with assault, that equates social responsibility with naive idealism, that defines the unrelenting pursuit of knowledge and wisdom as fanaticism."
"With the truth, you need to get rid of it as soon as possible and pass it on to someone else. As with illness, this is the only way to be cured of it. The person who keeps truth in his hands has lost."
"Philosophy can be compared to some powders that are so corrosive that, after they have eaten away the infected flesh of a wound, they then devour the living flesh, rot the bones, and penetrate to the very marrow. Philosophy at first refutes errors. But if it is not stopped at this point, it goes on to attack truths. And when it is left on its own, it goes so far that it no longer knows where it is and can find no stopping place."
"Nothing is poorer than a truth expressed as it was thought. Committed to writing in such cases, it is not even a bad photograph.... Truth wants to be startled abruptly, at one stroke, from her self-immersion, whether by uproar, music or cries for help."
"The love of truth, virtue, and the happiness of mankind are specious pretexts, but not the inward principles that set divines at work; else why should they affect to abuse human reason, to disparage natural religion, to traduce the philosophers as they universally do?"
"That the discovery of this great truth, which lies so near and obvious to the mind, should be attained to by the reason of so veryfew, is a sad instance of the stupidity and inattention of men, who, though they are surrounded with such clear manifestations of the Deity, are yet so little affected by them, that they seem as it were blinded with excess of light."
"Hume, and other skeptical innovators, are vain men, and will gratify themselves at any expense. Truth will not afford sufficient food to their vanity; so they have betaken themselves to errour. Truth, Sir, is a cow that will yield such people no more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull."
"What is a novel? I say: an invented story. At the same time a story which, though invented has the power to ring true. True to what? True to life as the reader knows life to be or, it may be, feels life to be. And I mean the adult, the grown-up reader. Such a reader has outgrown fairy tales, and we do not want the fantastic and the impossible. So I say to you that a novel must stand up to the adult tests of reality."
"... a novel survives because of its basic truthfulness, its having within it something general and universal, and a quality of imaginative perception which applies just as much now as it did in the fifty or hundred or two hundred years since the novel came to life."